Accompanying Poe Dameron on Jakku, BB-8 meets Lor San Tekka and receives a data chip containing the whereabouts on the lost Jedi, Luke Skywalker. However, the village they are in is discovered and attacked by Kylo Ren and several Stormtroopers of the First Order. When Poe's ship is damaged while attempting to escape, Poe stays behind to protect the villagers and sends BB-8 away from the battle with the information in tow.
BB-8 eventually meets Rey, who reluctantly lets him tag along with her. When the First Order returns to Jakku searching for the map, the pair escapes with Finn in the Millennium Falcon. Finn confides with BB-8 over his past affiliation as a Stormtrooper and convinces BB-8 to direct them to the Resistance base. The group run into Han Solo and Chewbacca, who take them to Takodana. There, Rey and BB-8 discover the lightsaber of Luke Skywalker. Upon touching it, Rey becomes frightened by a vision and runs off into the wood, with BB-8 following her. The First Order attacks shortly after, prompting Rey to have BB-8 leave her to avoid being spotted. Following the Battle of Takodana, BB-8 returns to the Resistance base on D'Qar and is reunited with his master. He eventually finds an inactive R2-D2, curious over the latter's current condition and wondering if R2-D2 had the rest of the map in his backup memory, with C-3PO replying that it was unlikely.
BB-8 then participates in the battle at Starkiller Base, accompanying Poe on his T-70 X-wing. After the battle, the two return D'Qar. Upon arrival, R2-D2 awakens and reveals that he had the map to Luke's location, with the part that BB-8 was carrying completing it and showing where Luke was. With the knowledge of Luke's whereabouts, BB-8 and the rest of the Resistance bid farewell to Rey, Chewbacca, and R2-D2 as they set off to find Luke.
BB-8 continues serving the Resistance. He accompanies Poe on his T-70 X-wing during the Battle of D'Qar while the members of the Resistance try to evacuate their base. Poe decides to attack the Mandator IV-class Siege Dreadnought Fulminatrix to buy time for the evacuation and BB-8 helps him fixing the the X-wing's weapon systems when they go offline. After the battle, they return to the Resistance ship, the MC85 Star Cruiser Raddus, and BB-8 tells Poe that Finn is finally awake. Shortly after, Kylo Ren fires on the hangar of the Raddus, destroying Poe's X-wing. Finn, Poe and BB-8 witness the destruction, and the explosion knocks BB-8's head off his body, though he manages to put himself together right after.
Later, BB-8 goes with Finn and Rose to their mission in Canto Bight, on the planet Cantonica, to find the Master Codebreaker. At the casino, a drunken alien called Dobbu Scay thought that BB-8 was a slot machine, so he started to put coins inside him. While Finn and Rose are on the balcony seeing the fathiers at the racetracks, BB-8 appears and announces that he found a guy with a red ploom bloom on his lapel, the codebreaker. Then, Rose, Finn and BB-8 are arrested for parking their shuttle illegally, and the officers throw the droid, who is now heavy with coins, out of the casino. In the prison cell, the trio meets a hacker called DJ who offers them his help. DJ breaks them of the cell, and when the guards approach to confront them, BB-8 launches all the coins he has inside him on one of the guards. After Rose and Finn freed the fathiers, BB-8 and DJ steal a ship to pick up them, so they can leave the planet.
When the group goes undercover on board the Mega-class Star Dreadnought Supremacy, Finn puts a garbage receptacle over BB-8 to disguise him, and the droid attempts to imitate the sounds of a repair droid to go unnoticed. However, the First Order droid BB-9E is able to see through their disguise and reports them to the First Order, resulting in the capture of the group, except for BB-8. After the Supremacy was split in two because of the sacrifice of Vice Admiral Holdo, Captain Phasma and a group of stormtroopers are about to attack Finn and Rose, but they are all surprised when a First Order AT-ST starts to fire on the troopers. When troopers manage to partly destroy the cockpit of the walker, it is revealed that BB-8 had hijacked the vehicle and was piloting to help Finn and Rose, who look at the droid stunned. After Finn fought and defeated Phasma, he and Rose get in the First Order AT-ST that BB-8 is piloting, and the walker carries them to a Xi-class light shuttle.
After the trio escaped the First Order Mega-Destroyer, they crash their light shuttle at the Resistance base on Crait. Poe and the others are alarmed upon seeing a First Order light shuttle but Finn and Rose soon reveal themselves, and Poe asks for BB-8. The droid immediately runs to Poe who embraces him and says that he is very glad to see his friend again. BB-8 then helped the Resistance by analyzing the schematics of the base, revealing that the only way out is the entrance that is being blocked by the First Order attack. However, later the group, including BB-8, follow the vulptices that had found another way out of the cave. After Rey arrived to find the Resistance members, she lifts the boulders blocking their exit and helps everyone get aboard the Millennium Falcon. Inside the Falcon, BB-8 reunites with Rey, and she touches his antenna saying that it looks good.
A year later, on the planet of Ajan Kloss, BB-8 watches Rey do her Jedi training under the tutelage of General Organa who had been a Jedi before she quit. While BB-8 watches Rey practicing her Jedi skills, she suddenly experiences a shared Force vision with Kylo Ren, causing het to accidentally cut down a tree with her lightsaber, which falls down on BB-8. Then, Rey notices that the tree had fallen down on BB-8 and quickly apologizes to him as she helps him out before BB-8 forgives her.
The very first concept art of R2-D2 in the early 1970s depicted him in an almost identical fashion to BB-8. However, due to technological disadvantages at the time, the creators of the movie were forced to use R2's final look instead.
BB-8 was a fully-functional prop on the set of The Force Awakens, with no CGI used on the character at all.
According to the director Rian Johnson, it is BB-8 who says the famous Star Wars quote "I've got a bad feeling about this!" in The Last Jedi when him and Poe are facing the First Order Dreadnought in beginning of the film, just before Poe telling him "Happy beeps here, buddy, come on."